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Technology Is Such A Blessing, And Yet At Times A Curse


ASOCIAL MEDIA

“It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.”

– Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”

Technology is such a blessing, and yet at times a curse.

While social media has exploded business opportunities, helped long lost lovers and family members reunite, and saved countless trees, it has also been a tool for flat lining self-esteem and, horrifyingly, driving suicides. Indeed, it has birthed a new crime: “cyber bullying.”

This term specifically refers to minors’ (children, tweens, and teens) harassing, tormenting, humiliating, slandering, or threatening other minors through the use of the Internet and/or texting. Some cyber bullies are brilliant hackers and actually pretend they are the victim to trick the actual victim and others; some outright lie and spread vicious rumors; others computer render photos of hapless victims to humiliate them; some pose as authority figures to elicit revealing personal information from the victim; some forward mean gossip; others post photos of the victim (or their loved ones) without their consent. The psychological effects of this abhorrent behavior range from fear, depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, isolation, lack of focus, rage, self-abusive behaviors, trust issues, and tragically, suicide.

Some kids actually begin to believe the negative comments; some seek revenge; some self-harm. Some commit suicide.

These symptoms are similar to one-on-one or group bullying in person, yet cyber bullying can continue 24/7.  While kids certainly can hit “delete” on a phone or email list, they cannot do so in the schoolyard. Yet bullying is definitely easier online, and can be much more far-reaching than bullying in person. Youngsters’ egos are fragile; their brains are not yet fully developed, and they often fixate on the negative commentary about themselves, regardless of the truth. Their deepest insecurities can be triggered, and some kids simply cannot cope with this, or do not know where to turn to learn how to do so.  They dread going to school, connecting with friends, classmates, coaches, teachers and strangers who have seen the blast.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics US Department of Health and Human Services’ Cyberbulling Research Center reports that 52% of students have been cyber bullied. The same report found that 33% of teens have been cyberthreatened online, and 52% do not tell their parents.  Females, whites, homosexuals, and those with disabilities are more likely to be bullied than other youth.

Parents and teachers would serve children well by advising them to deal with cyber bullying in a positive manner.

If it happens you or anyone you know, stand up to the bully! Block the bully’s access to your phone or computer; delete messages without reading/viewing them at all; talking to at least one trusted person about the incident; report the incident and all associated information about the bully to the Internet service provider.

Caution your kids to never, ever share personal information online (full name, phone number, passwords, school name/location, credit card information, birthday, Social Security number, parents names or occupations, home address) or that of any friends or extended family members.  Disallow your children from ever meeting anyone they meet online, unless it is in a school, class, or church setting, or the like, and go with them.  Talk to your kids about what they view online, and spend time with them.  Most importantly, model healthy activities for downtime with your kids; they will learn how to structure their free time for fulfillment, reducing their risk of being bullied. Bullies gravitate toward lonely, bored, vulnerable kids.

If this has happened to your child, please seek professional help as soon as possible to lessen any negatives effects.  If finances prohibit you from seeing a private therapist, see the school counselor, school nurse, a spiritual advisor, or ask a therapist to give you a sliding scale or payment plan.   As well, check out these resources:

Further, I believe the most influential action parents can take is modeling appropriate respectful behavior for your children toward all people. When watching TV or film characters who are making fun of others or themselves in a mean-spirited way, stay in conversation with your kids about this. If your children learn from you that it is not cool to put others down for any reason, they will be much less likely to do so themselves. Model for them that powerful people have no need to put others down.

Using the reverse of the Golden Rule can be even more impactful than that rule itself: “Don’t do unto to others what you would not want them to do to you.” I like to call this the Platinum Rule! If kids can think how it would affect them if someone posted a comment making fun of their own weight, or nose, or sexual orientation, or nationality, a great deal of pain can be avoided, self-esteem, and lives can be saved.

Read more posts by Nancy Irwin here. Nancy is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.

 

JenningsWire.com is created by National Publicist, Annie Jennings of the NYC based PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR.  Annie Jennings PR specializes in marketing books for getting authors booked on radio talk show interviews, TV shows in major online and in high circulation magazines and newspapers. Annie also works with speaker and experts to build up powerful platforms of credibility and influence.

 


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